LA Angels thin in infield as they come up empty on elite pair of free agent targets

Oct 27, 2021; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) hits a single against the
Oct 27, 2021; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) hits a single against the / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Angels will enter the 2022 season stacked at the corners of the infield, but thin in the middle. Two of their biggest free agent targets of the offseason are now gone, as Kris Bryant signed with the Colorado Rockies (at least he didn't sign with the Mariners) and Carlos Correa signed with the Minnesota Twins last week (at least he's out of the AL West).

The Angels were connected to Correa due to their strong need at shortstop, and Correa is obviously one of the better shortstops in baseball. Winning the Gold Glove this past year, he'd solidify what would be the best defensive (and probably best overall) infield in the Majors if he came here.

The issue is that he has character concerns. He was heavily involved in the Houston Astros/Boston Red Sox sign-stealing cheating scandal. To make matters worse, he has chosen to not take accountability for it, and somehow deny that it had any effect on the results of those years and the 2017 MVP won by teammate Jose Altuve as well.

Many questioned how well an AL West clubhouse would react to him being inserted within the franchise. Heck, new Angel Noah Syndergaard has been vocal about his disdain for Correa since coming to the Angels, and he wasn't even in the AL West when the cheating happened.

Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant would give the LA Angels more star power, but the deals fell through.

Other than Carlos Correa, the LA Angels were also linked to Kris Bryant, as the Halos had "checked in" on him according to FanSided MLB Insider Robert Murray. That was a bit confusing, as Bryant doesn't play any positions of need for the Halos.

Savvy baseball fans know that Bryant has played shortstop in the league before, but that's not his natural position, so the Angels would be paying a lot of money to get less than Bryant's best. What this move possibly could have meant, however, was that they would have Bryant play first, which would move Jared Walsh to the outfield.

Walsh plays terrific defense in the outfield, and not just first base, so that wouldn't be a bad fit. The issue there is that this would stunt the growth of Jo Adell, who wouldn't be getting as much playing time if Walsh moved to the outfield. He's already likely to platoon with Justin Upton, and doesn't need a third player taking playing time away from him.

That being said, it could hint that the Halos were in on trading one of Adell, Brandon Marsh, or Justin Upton, who are all key trade chips. This would bring up the same conversations if they simply signed Bryant to play in the outfield. Walsh would stay put, but then Bryant is now taking time away from Adell.

Bryant is much better than Adell obviously, but the Halos need to be developing their few elite prospects that they have. If signing Bryant was done AND the Angels traded one of those three outfielders for a Luis Castillo or similar type, then great! Other than that, it would be a poor fit.

Turns out, they didn't sign Bryant anyway. This group of position players hasn't seen a ton of change--positive or negative--this offseason. Pitching has been the focus, and in fairness to Arte Moreno and Perry Minasian, the bullpen really does look damn good these days.

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The offseason isn't over. This likely signals that the Angels will not look to improve their lineup any more this offseason, but if the back-end of the rotation gets fixed up (there are still trade candidates available), then having one hole in our lineup won't be the worst thing in the world.